In 1965, cartoonist Morrie Turner introduced his popular newspaper comic strip, Wee Pals, which focused on a collection of multicultural kids called “The Rainbow Club.” And, although a portion of society was a wee bit uncomfortable with the socially conscious subject matter at the time, it was hard to deny that the cartoon was, above all, funny – funny enough, in fact, to lead ABC to base a Saturday morning animated series on the comic strip called Kid Power.
Debuting in 1972, Kid Power featured an assortment of multi-ethnic tykes who were forced to deal with such weighty moral issues as prejudice and awareness of the environment, and by doing so, learned to get along in the world together despite their differences. The memorable members of The Rainbow Club ran the spectrum of diversity. Oliver was the overweight, bespectacled nerd, Diz was African American and blind, Connie was the feminist of the group, Paul was Hispanic and Rocky was a Native-American. Other assorted characters included George, Wellington, Paul and the antagonist and bully of the group, Ralph. And, as no group such as this would be complete without an animal sidekick or two, there was the frisky dog General Lee and a parrot named Polly.
Considering the era, it is no surprise that the series employed a number of pseudo-psychedelic musical sequences ala Yellow Submarine – in essence, using the power of music as the unifying force that keeps everyone together.
Created by the team of Rankin/Bass, best known for their classic Christmas specials such as Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Kid Power would act as a precursor to other multicultural children’s programming such as Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and Sesame Street. And, while the series would only produce a mere 17 episodes, lasting for two seasons, the culturally-colorful kids are still syndicated in over 100 newspapers, drawn to this day by Morrie Turner who will turn 90 in 2013 – proving that the theme of diversity never really goes out of style, nor should it.
If you remember watching Kid Power on television in the 70s, or are a fan of the Wee Pals comic strip, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your recollections within our comments section, as we tip our hats to the timeless work of a master cartoonist.